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New York City Plans Sweeps To Return Truants to School

Officials of the New York City schools will join with the city's police department in an effort to round up truants.

The program is believed to be the first coordinated, citywide effort in many years to seek out and return school-age children to school. The plan, initiated by the police department, was still being worked out last week and will begin as soon as possible.

Students rounded up in the sweeps will be taken to a school, not necessarily their own, where they will meet with attendance teachers, formerly known as truant officers, Robert Terte, the spokesman for the city's central school board, said.

Each truant student will be interviewed to determine whether his or her current school assignment is the most suitable, Mr. Terte said. No additional money has been set aside for the project.

For years, the school district, along with the city transit authority, has conducted truant sweeps in Times Square.

Mr. Terte said he had no estimate of how many students are truant from city schools each day.

Police would not confirm the project, saying it had not yet been officially announced. A news article about the plan appeared recently in The New York Times.

In January, Philadelphia announced a similar plan, under which police will take truant students to regional centers, where they will get counseling and academic work. (See Education Week, Jan. 26, 1994.)

Gorillas in Their Midst: A Minnesota school district last week approved plans to build a small high school with an environmental-studies theme at the Minnesota Zoological Gardens in Apple Valley.

The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district school board approved the plan for a school at the zoo after considering five "optional'' high schools. Other proposals, which had such themes as health, humanities, and business, could be developed later, officials said.

The zoo high school will be built with bonds from Apple Valley's economic-development authority. It will begin serving about 400 11th- and 12th-grade students from across the district in September 1995. The school will have a comprehensive curriculum but will focus on the environment. Zoo employees will have roles at the school and will be able to use the facility for educational programs on the weekends and during the summer.

Appointment Questioned: A Hispanic education group in Houston has questioned the legality of Rod Paige's recent appointment as superintendent there.

The Hispanic Education Committee last month filed a complaint with the state and with the U.S. Education Department's civil-rights office alleging that the school board excluded other candidates when it tapped Mr. Paige, an education-school dean who had been serving on the board.

Mr. Paige, an African-American, assumed the top position in the 198,000-student school district last month. He has met with officials of the Texas Education Agency who are investigating the complaints.

Black community groups in Houston, saying that the board's selection process was sound, have rallied behind Mr. Paige.

Attempted Kidnappings: Responding to a series of attempted kidnappings of children near bus stops and public schools in Boston during this school year, the city's police commissioner has issued a public alert asking parents to report any "suspicious activity'' to the police.

Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans ordered that more police personnel be posted near schools when children are arriving and leaving, with special attention given to children who walk to school, a police statement said.

Eight attempted child abductions have been reported in three Boston neighborhoods since September, police officials said, adding that they have no suspects.

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